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 Post subject: Torbay 11+ appeals
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:14 pm 
Does anyone have expereince of an 11+ appeal in Torbay? The independent appeal hearing took place this morning, however we were dismayed to learn that no one has ever been successful in appealing for a place at Churston Ferrers Grammar School and that two of the three appeal panel members who heard our appeal have been adjudicating for this school for six years or more. Our child's head teacher attended bnecause she feels so strongly that he should attend the grammar school - and a doctor's letter was also supplied, but we feel completely pessimistic about the outcome.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:00 am 
Hi Katie.

How did the appeal go?


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 Post subject: Eleven plus appeal
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:25 am
Posts: 229
Hi Vix,

Well - what can I say?
The appeal was a failure, but during the process leading up to and immediately after the appeal hearing itself, I uncovered several anomalies and fundamental flaws in the process.
Having no experience to start with - I was rather daunted and hence set about doing high level reasearch and comprehensive study of exisiting practice and legislation.

Due to the failings exposed - I have made an official complaint to the local government ombudsman. The ombudsman has no right to overturn the appeal panel's decision - even if it has been demonstrated to have been a foregone conclusion and completely orchestrated.

Certain information to help one plan and submit appeal documents is available via freedom of information act, however not all the information we requested was given, and fearful of upsetting "the powers that be" - I did not pursue information witheld. If I had been in possession of the information learned during the actual hearing, I might have sought external advice prior to the hearing!

In a nutshell - the school has defended all appeals since obtaining control of their own admissions (becoming foundation status). During that time a core of two panel members have remained in jurisdiction year after year. Technically this is not illegal - however it flies in the face of what the government rules as "good practice". We feel that it will be virtually impossible for the obbudsman to disagree with this point.
The third panel member is changed regualrly - this helps the school to appear to comply with the said regulations - although it would make no difference as the existing two unchanging members NEVER allow any child's appeal to be upheld. No matter what the disability / social circumstance / trauma / family problems etc.

Evidently this is an unusual situation and because we are the first family to investigate it fully - the situation has never been exposed before.
The school prefer to use the excuse of "over crowding" to defend their appeals - and in my pre-hearing investigations - I thought I ought to check this out. I fully agree that the school should not admit extra pupils if there was likely to be an over crowding issue. It would be potentially dangerous and unfair to existing students.

Therefore before even writing my son's appeal submission - I requested transient pupil information from the school - in order to make sure that an upheld appeal for my son would not affect others. I was pleased to learn that each year a number of students leave the school - (even within months of just starting in year seven).

These figures (in the form of the stats print out from the actual school) were submitted to the panel - and still they high handedly dismissed it as not relevant.

I provided eight pieces of evidence in all - from professionals involved with my son and was fortunate to be accompanied to the hearing by his head teacher. To put that into context - she has never attended any school appeal hearing in her long career.She simply felt that for the reasons identified - and being August birthday (so having been educated for one year less than many of the candidates) he had underperformed on the day. Equally - she was more knowledgeable than anyone on the subject of his academic suitability. We now have a letter confirming that in his SATS reuslts he far out performed many of the children from his school who (she feels through private tutoring - and which our son did not have) were awarded places.

All the evidence was dismissed (possibly not even read) by the panel.

What the onmbudsman chooses to do about the catalogue of errors of maladministration et al. we cannot predict. But I hold on optimistically hoping for some sort of acknowledgement of the sham that constitutes the "appeal system" in Torbay.

There are many other serious issues which I have not mentioned here - but which I would be glad to divulge should wish to hear!

Thank you for your contact - conducting an appeal for your child can be a rather lonely business!

Katie


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 Post subject: Re: Eleven plus appeal
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:59 pm 
Katie wrote:
What the onmbudsman chooses to do about the catalogue of errors of maladministration et al. we cannot predict. But I hold on optimistically hoping for some sort of acknowledgement of the sham that constitutes the "appeal system" in Torbay.



This all sounds very shocking. The ombudsman can at least require the appeal to be re-heard with a completely new appeal. That should put the cat among the pigeons in this case! Watch out for more stooges appearing on the new panel though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7064
I have written in the Q&As of my reservations about some foundation school panels. Can they be truly independent when directly appointed by the governors? Even when they are doing a good job, as I am sure some are, it cannot be easy to avoid the perception that they might not be entirely independent. It is a fact that the average success rate for foundation school appeals is consistently lower than that for LA appeals. Foundation school panels are also more likely to involve the same combination of panel members (whereas LAs usually have a much wider pool from which to select).

If the ombudsman is satisfied that mistakes have been made which were so serious as to result in an injustice, he can request a re-hearing with a new panel. If the foundation school agrees, this is called a "local settlement". If the school declines, then the ombudsman can force the issue by a public finding of maladministration.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Ombudsman
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:29 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:22 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Lincolnshire
Hi katie, do pm me I'd like to share my experience of going down the ombudsman route.

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Louise


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 9:30 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:29 pm
Posts: 2049
Location: Wirral
Hi Katie,

I'm completely shocked by your story.

We all want a fair hearing for our children whatever the outcome maybe.. :?
Sometimes we might not like it and sometimes it may be in our favour, but to see blatant ignorance is unforgivable!

Please keep chasing this up and don’t let this lay, I know it may not help you, but it will help others like you.

Is there nothing you can do to get another hearing? Can the ombudsman not enforce this?

My heart goes out to you, please let us know what happens with the ombudsman..

Have you got a good backup school?

I'm so sorry..

AM


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 Post subject: torbay 11plus appeals
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 19
Location: dorset
Hi katie
Have been through very similar experince here in dorset still communicating with the ombudsman . clerk and chair of appeal panel do not want me to have access to minutes and notes from my appeal so the ombudsman has informed me can not help but wonder WHY? I thought we could ask for this under the freedom of information act? you do feel out on a limb with all this but I guess you learn a lot too but all we are trying to do is the very best for our children.
keep in touch I will too.
very good luck
lucy

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stressed out mum


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:05 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11956
Lucy the ombudsman should be able to demand minutes so he/she can investigate - of course the minutes might not be accurate ....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7064
The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to personal data. The Data Protection Act is the relevant legislation, but whether or not an individual may have access can depend on technicalities.

The Information Commissioner might be able to help. See this thread:
www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/forum/11plus/ ... hp?p=30199

The ombudsman has the powers of a high court judge, so I would have thought he could demand to see the clerk's notes if he wished.

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Etienne


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